Лекция: М.А.Шишкин 2 страница

The Use of Cement in Ancient America

A long-ridiculed «anachronism» in Book of Mormon is the reference in Helaman 3:9-11 to cement work among some of the ancient inhabitants of this continent in the 1st century B.C. At this time, many Nephite people moved into the north lands (probably southern Mexico). Trees were very scarce there, apparently because of environmental irresponsibility among a previous, fallen civilization (I refer to the «Jaredites,» probably correlated with the Olmecs). While taking care to protect and nurture trees for the future, the Nephites used other materials to build their cities. Buildings made from cement are specifically mentioned. For decades, this seemed like a mistake.

In 1929, Heber G. Grant (former President of the Church) told the story of a man with a doctorate who had ridiculed him for believing in the Book of Mormon. That learned man cited the mention of cement work as an obvious lie «because the people in that early age knew nothing about cement.» President Grant, who was a young man at the time of that conversation, said:

«That does not affect my faith one particle. I read the Book of Mormon prayerfully and supplicated God for a testimony in my heart and soul of the divinity of it, and I have accepted it and believe it with all my heart.» I also said to him, «If my children do not find cement houses, I expect that my grandchildren will.» He said, «Well, what is the good of talking with a fool like that?» (April 1929 Conference Report, p. 128 ff)

President Grant's statement was prophetic. Today, tourists to Mesoamerica can find ancient cement work in abundance at Teotihuacan (which is clearly «in the land north» according to modern models for Book of Mormon geography). Mesoamerican cement was being used at least by the first century B.C. (David A. Palmer, In Search of Cumorah, Horizon Publishers, Bountiful, UT, 1981, p. 121). Palmer (ibid.) shows a photograph of cement used to surface a temple at the Chiapa de Corzo site (Palmer also cites Monte Alban, which is south of Teotihuacan but still in the «land north,» as another example of ancient cement work). Several examples of cement work use tiny volcanic stones (0.5 to 2 mm diameter) mixed with clay and lime to produce the cement. Cement was also used in the ancient city of Kaminaljuyu (modern Guatemala City).

As to the possible importance of Teotihuacan itself, consider the following tentative suggestion from Michael J. Preece (Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol.3, 1991, p.38):

The Book of Mormon text often speaks of a mysterious land. It may be referred to as the «land which was northward» (Alma 63:4) or simply the «land northward» (Alma 63:5-8, 10; Helaman 3:3-4, 7, 10-11). In another place it is referred to as the «northernmost part of the land» (3 Nephi 7:12). It is possible that this land is in the same location as the «great city of Jacobugath» (3 Nephi 9:9). Dr. Allen suggests that this mysterious land might be the ancient city of Teotihuacan, built in the valley of Mexico, near where Mexico City lies today… The ancient culture which inhabited this city had its beginnings about 150 B.C. and fell about A.D. 750. The circumstantial evidence that Teotihuacan may indeed have been the «land northward» includes the fact that between 55 B.C. and A.D. 29, the Book of Mormon mentions several migrations into this land where large bodies of water were found. This is the same period when Teotihuacan was experiencing a high growth rate. The valley of Mexico contained many lakes, and in fact Mexico City is built on a dry lake bed. The Book of Mormon speaks of the people in the land northward building houses out of cement because timber was scarce in the land (Helaman 3:7, 10-11). The archaeological site of Teotihuacan contains many buildings made of cement, and timber is indeed scarce in the valley of Mexico...."

On a related note, the Book of Mormon speaks of highways and roads (3 Nephi 6:8; 8:13). Some LDS people have pointed to the discovery of cement roads among the Incas as supporting evidence, but the Inca empire was too far south to fit into a modern understanding of Book of Mormon geography. However, lime-surfaced causeways (called sacbes) have been discovered in Central America, some dating to Book of Mormon times. Researchers at Tulane University found one from near 300 B.C. (E. Wyllys Andrews V et al., «Komchen: An Early Maya Community in Northwest Yucatan,» presented at the 1981 meeting of the Sociedad Mexicana de Antropologia, San Cristobal, Chiapas, p. 15, as cited by J. Sorenson, Ensign, Oct. 1984, p. 18). Another in Belize was used between 50 B.C. and 150 A.D. (Andrews, «Dzibilchaltun,» in Supplement to the Handbook of Middle American Indians, ed. J.A. Sabloff, vol. 1, Archaeology, University of Texas Press, Austin, 1981, p. 322, as cited by Sorenson, 1984, p. 23). South of Mexico City are about two miles of ancient paved roads(American Antiquity, Vol. 45, 1980, p. 623), while one roadway in Yucatan is over 50 miles long (A. Bustillos Carillo, «El Sacbe de los Mayas: Caminos Blancos de los Mayas, Base de su Vida Social y Religion,» 2nd ed., B. Costa-Amic Editorial, Mexico, 1974, p. 23, as cited by Sorenson, 1984, p. 18). As we learn more about these ancient roadways and their uses, we hope to understand more about Book of Mormon peoples and their lives. In any case, the mention of cement work and roadways in the Book of Mormon appears plausible today, but was implausible to experts of the past.

By the way, the ancient adobe peublos that existed in Mexico as well as the US Southwest could also qualify as «cement» houses. The word «adobe» was not commonly used in Joseph Smith's day, was not in the 1830 Webster's Dictionary, and did not appear in print in English until 1834 (B. Stubbs, Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol. 6, No. 1, 1996, p. 39). If Joseph did not have that word in his vocabulary, the word «cement» in the Book of Mormon could also include adobe. Perhaps the adobe builders were linked to Book of Mormon peoples.

Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon

A recent discovery is that ancient Middle Eastern poetry — including the Bible — often used a poetical form called chiasmus, a form of parallelism in which key ideas are structured in a mirror image reflective form such as A,B,C,C',B',A'. Some of the most powerful and beautiful examples of this ancient form are found in the Book of Mormon (first discovered in 1967 by John Welch). The importance of chiasmus in ancient Semitic writings has only been recognized in this century, and still today very few educated people have ever heard of it. Its strong presence in the Book of Mormon is evidence that its writers possessed an ancient Semitic literary tradition, as the Book of Mormon claims, and (in my opinion) single-handedly refutes the claim that the Book of Mormon is the product of a 19th century writer (though there are numerous other factors that refute such a claim). Alma 36 is a classic example. For details — fascinating evidence that the Book of Mormon is an authentic ancient document — see my new «Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon» page.

Olive Culture

Jacob chapter 5 offers a detailed description of practices regarding the cultivation of olive trees, taken from a Jewish text that was on the sacred writings available on the brass plates that Lehi brought with him from Jerusalem. These descriptions agree well with what is known of ancient olive cultivation in ways that were far beyond what Joseph Smith could have known.

The Book of Mormon does not say that the Nephites raised olives, however. For more information on the issue of plants and animals in the Book of Mormon, see my LDS FAQ page on that topic.

Wars in Winter?

A fascinating issue on climate is the seasons of war described in the Book of Mormon, mostly between Alma 9 and Alma 47. Several examples provide specific months and days of the battle (e.g., Alma 16:1). Many others indicate the general time of year (e.g., Alma 44:22-24). In over 30 places, war action is described as taking place near the end or beginning of the year. Sorenson has compiled information from the text about the month of the year various military skirmishes are mentioned. Almost all occur between the 11th and 3rd months, with a small number reported in the 4th, 5th, and 10th months, and none mentioned in the 6th through 9th months. It's a striking pattern. Why? Well, the text also makes reference to cultivation of food a number of times in the 4th through 9th months. The problem of getting food to the troops is mentioned as a concern mainly in the twelfth through 2nd months. Thus it seems that the harvest may have been in months 10 through 12. (Summary: Nephite cultivation of fields: months 4-9; main harvest: months 10-12; time of warfare: mainly months 11-3).

Now several insights pop out:

1. since the armies were largely made of ordinary citizens (like reservists) who were largely farmers, they were not available for warfare except after the harvest (see Alma 53:7);

2. since an army moves on its stomach, fighting is most easily carried out when food supplies are most available, which would be after the harvest;

3. the Book of Mormon shows remarkable accuracy (and internal consistency) in dealing with the ancient relationship between agriculture and warfare.

But how do Nephite months correspond to ours? In Mesoamerica, May though September is the best time for growing crops (heat and moisture available). October through April is fairly dry. We also know that before Columbus, military campaigns in Central America occurred mainly between late October and February (again, farmers were then free of agricultural duties and food could be gathered — or captured). Likewise, soggy land from heavy rains was now drier and more passable (and made living in tents easier). These considerations lead Sorenson and others to conclude that the Nephite year may have begun in late December, perhaps with the winter solstice (Dec. 21/22), as did many other ancient peoples.

Now here comes an intriguing insight which bodes poorly for the theory that Joseph Smith made the Book of Mormon up. A significant battle scene (one in which the long-term survival of the Nephite nation might have been at stake) is described in Alma 51 at the end of the year — ca. December. After heavy fighting and major marches, both sides were very tired because of their «labors and heat of the day.» This takes place on the east coast, «in the borders on the beach by the seashore» (Alma 51:32). At this season, the rain-swollen rivers have subsided, but the east region (Isthmus of Tehuantepec area) is still rather wet, low, and hot. The hottest weather was still months away, but down on the coast it was hot and muggy enough to contribute to the fatigue of the rapidly traveling troops.

Alma 51 shows that the land of the Book of Mormon peoples was not a cold, snow-covered place in winter, as upstate New York was for young Joseph Smith. If he made up the book based on what he knew, he would have had fighting occur in the summer, not during winter. The internal consistency of many passages dealing with war during the proper season of war for Mesoamerica is also remarkable — and has not been noted or recognized until the last decade or so. Though it is a minor point in the text, the geographical and climatic information provided fits and makes sense. It must be considered as one of the many «mundane» but powerful evidences for authenticity.

There are many aspects of ancient warfare in the Book of Mormon that show strong evidences of authenticity. Interesting parallels occur in recent discoveries about the widespread nature of war in ancient Mesoamerica and especially the use of fortifications in the Late Pre-Classic and Proto-Classic periods (corresponding with Book of Mormon times). The several types of fortifications described in the Book of Mormon have been found in Mesoamerica dating to the appropriate era. Especially interesting is the recently discovered use of earthen mounds or walls coupled with timber work on top, much as described in Alma 50: 1-6. This topic is discussed more fully in John Sorenson's article, «Fortifications in the Book of Mormon Account Compared with Mesoamerican Fortifications» in Warfare in the Book of Mormon, ed. Stephen D. Ricks and William J. Hamblin, Deseret Book, SLC, UT, 1990 — a book that abounds with other fascinating insights and evidences related to the Book of Mormon as an authentic ancient document. Other insights in this volume deal with the nature of guerrilla warfare and the Gadianton robbers, the use of weapons in the Book of Mormon and Mesoamerica, military organization and strategy in the ancient world, legal aspects of war, and more. Highly recommended for serious students of the Book of Mormon.

It is worth noting that Mesoamerican culture and Mayan culture in particular was once viewed by the «experts» as being overwhelmingly peaceful. In their view, the extensive warfare depicted in the Book of Mormon was out of place. In recent years that view has been radically altered. As Michael Coe now explains, «The Maya were obsessed with war. The Annals of the Cakchiquels and the Popol Vuh speak of little but intertribal conflict among the highlanders, while the sixteen states of Yucatan were constantly battling with each other over boundaries and lineage honor» (Michael D. Coe, The Maya, London: Thames and Hudson, 4th ed., 1987, p. 160).

Mesoamerican Fortifications

Exciting and fairly recent discoveries in Mesoamerica which have caused a complete paradigm shift in the thinking of scholars. Until recently, experts believed ancient Central America and southern Mexico (Mesoamerica) to have been a peaceful, tranquil place during the times that the Book of Mormon speaks of frequent, large-scale wars. Now it is known that warfare was relatively common. Further, the discoveries of ancient fortifications that fueled the paradigm shift are remarkably consistent with descriptions of fortifications given in the Book of Mormon. Together, the evidence about ancient warfare and fortifications in Mesoamerica strengthens the case for the plausibility of the Book of Mormon as an ancient text. For details, see my Mesoamerican Fortifications page.

Numerous Hebraic Language Structures

Critics continue to mock the awkward grammar of the Book of Mormon and the many changes that had to be made in later editions to correct problems of punctuation and grammar. In so doing, they call attention to what are actually strong signs of authenticity. Yes, punctuation was a problem in the original manuscript because it was dictated (translated) without punctuation. Punctuation had to be added and then further corrected. That sounds crazy for anyone composing an English document — but ancient Hebrew and other Semitic languages were written without punctuation, and a relatively direct translation would likewise not have punctuation in it.

As for the grammar, there certainly were many strange and awkward structures in the original manuscript that needed improvement. For example, instead of the normal «if… then ...» construction, the Book of Mormon had a multiple phrases with «if… and ....» such as "if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, and he shall manifest the truth of it unto you" (Moroni 10:4, 1830 edition). That's completely unacceptable English — but it's very good Hebrew. There are many dozens of examples of expressions and grammatical structures in the 1830 Book of Mormon, many of which survive in the current printing, that are unusual or awkward in English yet are natural and proper in Hebrew. The simplest explanation is that the text was dictated as a translation from an ancient Semitic document. Critics have been unable to explain away these and many other signs of authenticity (Edward Ashment tried, bless his heart, as discussed by John Gee in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 51-120, esp. pp. 88-91.) It's much easier to just mock the poor grammar and punctuation, or scream about the many minor changes that were needed to make the Book of Mormon text more properly comply to basic standards of spelling, punctuation, and grammar. (Please don't let them know about the many textual problems in the surviving Hebrew and Greek mansucripts for the Bible — we need your help to keep their bubble intact.)

An outstanding article on the topic of Semitic influence in the Book of Mormon text is Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon by John A. Tvedtnes. He shows that strong evidences of Hebraic language show through Joseph Smith's translation. It makes no sense if the book were a fraud. Also see the related pages at Rabbi Yosef's non-LDS site, The Jewishness of the Book of Mormon. Also of value is James L. Carroll's Collection of Hebraisms. The language of the Book of Mormon cannot be explained as the English of Joseph Smith or the King James English of the Bible. It's more Semitic than either.

A recent contribution to this area is the work of Brian D. Stubbs, one of the few linguists working with Uto-Aztecan languages (covering the US Southwest down to southern Mexico). He wrote a ground-breaking article, «Looking Over vs. Overlooking Native American Languages: Let's Void the Void,» in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol. 5, No. 1, Spring 1996, pp. 1-49, which makes serious, systematic comparisons of ancient Hebrew words and forms to those of Uto-Aztecan languages. Stubbs is among a small handful of people who know both Semitic languages and Uto-Aztecan languages. Most linguists dealing with the Book of Mormon have approached it with backgrounds rich in Semitic languages but lacking in New World languages. Stubbs' pioneering work opens the door for further studies, pointing to some interesting possibilities.

Among his tentative conclusions, Stubbs finds that Uto-Aztecan «as a language family exhibits more similarities with Hebrew than could be attributed to coincidence; nevertheless, that Hebrew element is obviously mixed with other language elements very different from Hebrew.» While no UA [Uto-Aztecan] language shows the same level of derivation from Hebrew as Spanish does from Latin, there are still many traces of similarity suggesting some degree of contact or derivation. Over 1,000 similarities have been derived, enough to merit further investigation. Examples of similarities include the plural suffix "-im" in Northwest Semitic (the branch to which Hebrew belongs), and "-ima" in many UA languages; the passive prefix «ni-» in Northwest Semitic and the prefix «na-» in UA; Northwest Semitic «yasab» as the perfect form of the verb to sit or to dwell, compared to «yasipa» in UA; «adam» meaning man in Hebrew compared to «otam» in UA; Hebrew «katpa» for shoulder, compared to «kotpa» in UA; ya-'amin for «he believes» in Hebrew compared to «yawamin» in a northern UA language; etc. Stubbs' article delves into 100 of the over 1,000 areas of similarity. It is technical but worth the read.

In addition to examining Uto-Aztecan languages, Stubbs has another worthwhile article from the perspective of a linguist in «A Lengthier Treatment of Length,» Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol. 5, No. 2, 1996, pp. 82-97. He responds to Edward Ashment's attack on the Book of Mormon which claims the long, awkward sentences found in so many Book of Mormon verses are much different than the short, concise sentences found in the Old Testament, supposedly showing that the Book of Mormon was not derived from Hebrew. Stubbs shows that the short sentences alleged to be characteristic of Biblical Hebrew may be characteristic of the King James translation of the Old Testament, but are not characteristic of the actual Hebrew. In fact, numerous sentence structures in the Book of Mormon show much more in common with genuine Hebraic sentences than with the English of the King James Bible or with the English of Joseph Smith's day.

Many Book of Mormon verses have series of verbals introducing clauses, such as: «Zeniff... he being over-zealous,... therefore being deceived by... King Laman, who having entered into a treaty... and having yielded up [various cities],... .» (Mosiah 7:21-22). This type of structure is an ideal way of translating the typical Hebrew hal-clause (or circumstantial clause), which Stubbs discusses in detail. Many English sentences in the Book of Mormon that an English editor would tear apart are perfectly acceptable Hebrew structures, appearing to be fairly literal translations. The King James translation loses much of the literal flavor of such passages, but they are present in the original Hebrew. Thus, we have the interesting situation of the Book of Mormon being more Hebraic in its use of complex sentences that the King James Bible — which not only strengthens the claim the Book of Mormon was derived from a Semitic text, but further undermines the long untenable claim that the Book of Mormon can be explained away as a derivative of the King James text.

The complex sentence structures of the Book of Mormon not only correspond with those of Hebrew, Arabic, and Egyptian, but also resonate with the structures of many Native American languages. Stubbs concludes:

In light of patterns inherent to Hebrew, arabic, Egyptian, and many Native American languages, the copious presence of certain long, awkward structures in the Book of Mormon, in my opinion, speaks much for the text's authenticity than would a lack. The lengths of awkward English might be deemed by some as poor grammar or weakness in writing (Ether 12:23-26,40); but as a linguist and student of Semitic and Native American languages, I find these lengthy structures to be quite intriguing, significant, and reassuring."

Names in the Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon introduces roughly 200 new names not found in the Bible. Many of these have been found to have genuine Semitic parallels in ancient times. Take, for example, the name Alma. Alma was the name of two male prophets in the Book of Mormon (a father and a son). This name has been one of the most commonly attacked features of the Book of Mormon, for Alma is a female Latin name. Critics have assumed that Joseph simply borrowed Alma from the term «alma mater,» ignorant of its gender. The Tanner's suggest that Joseph borrowed it from the name Shalmaneser in the Old Testament. As usual, they overlook an important fact that has been discussed in LDS writings for decades. In 1961, a prominent scholar in Israel, Professor Yigael Yadin, discovered an ancient document that proved to be a land deed from the time of the Bar Kokhba rebellion in Palestine, placing it in the general era of Lehi and Nephi. Prof. Yadin translated one of the names as «Alma the son of Judah.»(See Bar Kokhba by Yigael Yadin, Random House, New York, 1971, p. 176; and Nibley, The Prophetic Book of Mormon, pp. 281-82.) Alma proves to not only be a genuine Semitic name, but is a name of a Hebraic man. Finding the male name Alma in a record about descendants of 6th century B.C. Hebrews now must be viewed not as a reason for mocking the Book of Mormon, but as a reason to take it seriously, in spite of the Tanners and other professional critics.

Another novel Book of Mormon name is Sariah, the wife of Lehi who lived in Jerusalem in 600 B.C. Scholars did not know that Sariah was an authentic ancient Hebrew name for a woman until long after the time of Joseph Smith. Jeffrey R. Chadwick explains in «Sariah in the Elephantine Papyri,» Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol. 2., No. 2, 1993, p.196:

The conjectural Hebrew spelling of Sariah would be s'ryh and would be pronounced something like Sar-yah. The skeptic might suggest that this name was an invention of Joseph Smith, since Sariah does not appear in the Bible as a female personal name. However, in a significant historical parallel to the Book of Mormon, the Hebrew name Sariah, spelled sryh, has been identified in a reconstructed form as the name of a Jewish woman living at Elephantine in Upper Egypt during the fifth century B.C.

The reference to Sariah of Elephantine is found in Aramaic Papyrus #22 (also called Cowley #22 or C-22) and appears in Aramaic Papyri of the Fifth Century B.C.[Arthur E. Cowley, ed. and trans., Aramaic Papyri of the Fifth Century B.C. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1923), 67]. Although the language of the documents is Aramaic, A. E. Cowley specifies that the names are in fact Hebrew Ibid., xv]. Line 4 of C-22 lists the personal name sry[h br]t hws 'br hrmn [Ibid., 67]. The probable vocalization is Sariah barat Hoshea' bar Harman, and the text means «Sariah daughter of Hoshea son of Harman.» Cowley had to reconstruct part of the text, supplying the final h of Sariah and the initial b-r of barat, but the spacing is adequate, and the comparative context of the papyrus leaves little doubt that the reconstruction is accurate. The extant final t of barat assures us that the person was a daughter, not a son, and, after the letters b-r are supplied, there is only room for one additional letter — the final h of Sariah.

The Elephantine papyri were discovered about 70 years after the Book of Mormon was published. (Incidentally, the Elephantine papyri reveal that Jews living at Elephantine in Egypt built themselves a temple similar to but smaller than the temple of Solomon, just as Nephi's people did after reaching the New World. Many Book of Mormon critics say that real Israelites would never have thought of building another temple elsewhere, but that's simply not the case.)

Consider also the prominent name Mosiah, which is the name of a book within the Book of Mormon and the name of two great kings, a father and his grandson. This name does not occur in English translations of the Bible. The Tanners suggest that Joseph Smith made it up by combining Moses + Isaiah. A much better explanation exists! And this explanation gives profound insights into the Book of Mormon. John Sawyer, a non-LDS biblical scholar, published an article in 1965 called «What Was a Mosi'a?»(Vetus Testamentum, 15: 475-86, 1965). A summary of his article and a discussion of its important implications for the Book of Mormon are provided by Matthew Roper in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 4, 1992, pp. 199-202. «Mosi'a» does occur in the Hebrew scriptures, but is never transliterated as such in modern English translations of the Bible. Sawyer found that the word is used in a characteristic manner to describe a «victor» or «savior» or «deliverer» appointed by God, to deliver oppressed people from injustice. The term designated a unique class or office in ancient Israel and could even be applied to God himself (the ultimate Deliverer). Sawyer noted that the deliverance of a Mosi'a is often achieved by nonviolent means. The Mosi'a is an «advocate» who strives for justice. As Sawyer explains, «The main idea is intervening and contending on behalf of the right.» (Ibid., 482) Significantly, Sawyer noted that, «Final victory means the coming of mosi'im to rule like judges over Israel. The people will once again possess their own property and justice will be the foundation of the Kingdom of the Lord.»

The Book of Mormon name or title «Mosiah» is quite similar to «mosi'a». John Welch and Stephen Ricks have noted that mosi'a, when coupled with the theophoric element «iah,» would mean «the Lord is a mosi'a.» («What Was a Mosi'a?» F.A.R.M.S. Update, April 1989; see Welch, ed., Reexploring the Book of Mormon, 105-7.)

Those familiar with the accounts in the Book of Mosiah and the works of both of the men called King Mosiah will note the fascinating parallels between Sawyer's description and the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mosiah is about deliverance of oppressed people by mighty rulers appointed by God, often achieving deliverance with nonviolent means. These heroes in the Book of Mormon include Benjamin, Zeniff, Alma, Gideon, Ammon, Mosiah II, and the sons of Mosiah. Nowhere else are there so many accounts of deliverance in the classical manner of the ancient «mosi'a». Many of the deliverers are kings or chief priests. The sons of Mosiah would later go on to help save (deliver) many thousands of Lamanites. The Book of Mosiah also describes how King Mosiah did away with kings and instituted a system of elected judges over the people. The basic message of the book is not that humans can deliver oppressed and afflicted peoples, but that the Lord God is the true deliverer (Mosiah 11:23; 24:21; 25:16). One may well wonder if the name Mosiah is really a title that was given to two great kings who delivered their people. In any case, it is hard to believe that such an appropriate ancient name/title could have been guessed by chance.

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